News — 01 May 2013
Corsica’s life-size renewable energy lab

The stunning island of Corsica sits 100 miles off the mainland of the South of France and enjoys 210 sunny days a year. Much like Ibiza, its climate already lends itself to a generous supply of renewable energy, particularly solar. However, as an island starved of carbon-based energy resources, it has already had to strive for greater renewable energy power than most for many years.

Now, with billions of euros of private and public funding, the island has launched an island-wide real-time renewable energy initiative. The key is not only to optimise on the limits of an island’s average potential of 30% renewable energy, but to actually find ways to maximise the storage and use of more. EDF, the state-run electrical utility, believe that islands, with their isolated electrical systems and associated limitations, are the best proving grounds for techniques that can later be expanded across continents.

As such, Corsica is a hotbed of solar, hydro and wind power experimentation. Even local residents, who enjoy up to 50% subsidies for installing renewable energy devices, are contributing enthusiastically to the cause. The island, which experiences winds of 160-195 kms an hour, their upgraded wind and solar park will soon be generating enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. Meantime, EDF have invested millions into quick start-up thermal plants and energy storage & control schemes to maximise renewable energy use, a major dam to optimise on the power of water to boost electrical sup- plies, and diesel-powered generators designed to kick in when demand outreaches supply – such as in the hours of darkness. All this will be carefully monitored in a hightech control centre designed to regulate the island’s electricity grid in real-time and perfect the balance between consumption and production. There is no doubt that renewable energy experimentation on this scale points to the collection of invaluable data potentially serving and influencing Europe at large – not least another island like Ibiza.

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